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Secure File Sharing for Law Firms: Tips to Use

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Secure File Sharing for Law Firms: Tips to Use

If you are a lawyer working or Not working remotely, file sharing is not an optional service for you or your firm. The legal industry has been slow to adopt some technology tools, such as law firm secure file sharing tools, and now we are seeking to implement quickly and aggressively to thrive in our current market. How fast can we catch up?
Documents are a major byproduct of the legal field and the collaboration required for the completion of those documents is immense. A simple document execution involving a few individuals has now become a complex digital and virtual process. Ensuring those documents are shared efficiently and securely during the collaboration process means finding, vetting, and learning new tools.
Today and for the unforeseen future, that collaboration must be remote to be successful.
This article will focus on what to look for in a law firm sharing software and review a few quick and easy options you can employ today (yes, today)!
Why do I need a secure file-sharing tool built for law firms?
In 2019, the ABA TECHREPORT took a look at solo and small firm document and record management software use. Solos were the least likely to employ this type of software at 37% with small firms coming in next at 55%.
Email remains one of the main sources of file sharing in the legal field, despite plenty of evidence that email is not the best option for secure file sharing. If you are going to continue using email to share files, your best bet is to start with some research on ensuring you have a paid plan that has built-in security compliance and potential encryption options.
Handling paper, mailing documents, and emailing back and forth multiple times are all common practices in the legal industry that cost countless hours of admin time. If you are a lawyer reading this, who files shares in these forms, you are losing billable time that could be spent on the true value you bring.
File sharing does not have to be unsecured, scary, or overwhelming.
The tools that are available to the legal field for file sharing are numerous, priced to allow implementation that results in a positive ROI, and come in a variety of flavors and needs.
What does your law firm need in a secure file sharing tool?
There’s no need to overthink things when it comes to choosing a secure file sharing option for your firm, but taking a bit of time to think about your firm’s specific needs will help focus your search on tools that work best for you.
Start by making a list of all your firm’s specific needs: This could include high-level needs like ease-of-use and security, but it could also include factors that are more specific to your firm and/or practice area (for example, e-signatures might be important to you).
Follow these tips to help efficiently create a well-rounded list of your needs:
  • Involve any of your team members who will use the secure file sharing tool in your decision-making/needs analysis: They’ll need to use it, after all. Buying a tool that only works for you does nothing to improve your firm’s use.
  • If you are a solo lawyer, be sure your list of needs has some future planning involved. For example, if you plan on expanding your staff or outsourcing work, what additional file-sharing permissions/needs might you have?
  • Keep it simple but concise and consider sharing your list of needs with any sales teams you encounter.
What to look for in law firm file-sharing software: Questions to Ask
Before you purchase a secure file-sharing tool for your law firm, it’s important to make sure that the software has what your firm needs to succeed while keeping client information confidential. Look for a security tool that’s easy to implement and use for your firm.
This checklist of questions should help:
  • Does it have encryption options? Read up on what lawyers should know about encryption to make sure your secure file-sharing software fits the bill.
  • Is the platform secure? Ideally, your vendor should run regular security checks, and be validated by a third party.
  • How trustworthy is the vendor/product? Look for reviews of the product online, recommendations from your bar association, and recommendations from colleagues to help determine this.
  • What are the permission settings? You should have flexible permission settings with your file-sharing software: For example, the ability to share files with individuals or certain groups, and the ability to remove permissions if necessary.
  • Do those permission settings expire over time?
  • Can you share levels of files (documents versus subfolders vs entire folders)?
  • Can you share different types of files (documents vs digital media)?
  • How easy is it to use? This is important! In order for your team to successfully adopt a new tool, it’ll need to be easy to use and add to their day-to-day routines.
  • Will your clients and team be able to easily maneuver the process? Clients need to find it easy to use your secure file sharing tool too. You may also want to give clients access to their case files via a portal, rather than individually sharing files. This can help save both you and your client time, but only if this is easy to navigate.
  • Will other lawyers also be able to access the information as needed? Beyond your own team, think about securely sharing files with outside counsel or opposing counsel.
  • Can you quickly and easily change or revoke permissions? It’s important to have this flexibility to keep client information confidential if needed.
  • Is the program downloadable to a desktop/laptop or only available online? 
  • If the program is downloadable to a desktop/laptop can you remotely wipe the information from the machine of a team member no longer employed? This is another factor that is crucial for keeping client information confidential.
  • Will it integrate with the tools I already use? This can help save your team time and lead to easier adoption.
  • Do you need it to have electronic signature capabilities built-in?
  • Pricing: Does this tool fit within your budget?
Pricing is last on my list because quite simply pricing should only be examined after your overall needs are determined for your secure file sharing software. The cheapest option is not the best option if you have not explored exactly what you need—the same goes for the most expensive.
Remaining adaptable to implementing new technology regularly is a must in today’s landscape. Making some educated and well-thought decisions now will save valuable time and potential changes down the road (and your actual product is often your time as a lawyer).
While free options are available, they are rarely the best option long term and most definitely not the best option for true success. Just as you would not continually employ free interns to handle work required by humans in your firm, free technology software often comes at a cost in the long run (insecurity, features, and accessibility).
If you are already using legal case management software, you most likely have some built-in secure file sharing tools already sitting around just waiting for you to use. Check out GetLEGAL Software file management which you can either require a login for the end user’s portal or simply share a link for download.
This is exactly the type of file sharing you would want from your case management software both flexible and robust. Just remember, file sharing only works if the files are actually uploaded to your case management platform.
Making your decision, confidently
Action over perfection is a necessary protocol in any business. During times of great change, finding the perfect choice may lead to decision paralysis.
To thrive, keep your decision-making process simple by asking yourself basic questions to help you create your unique set of needs Provide that list of needs to those offering the services, and then make your decision.
File sharing through effective tools will not only result in ensuring you and your law firm can work remotely, but it can also greatly improve your client’s experience, the firm’s overall efficiency and help you find some of that precious lost time.
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